Field Update 2/24/20

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “As probably guessed the topic of the day is the 2 nights of sub 32F temperatures.  Most folks were able to cover their strawberries and hopefully, the row covers did their jobs.  I know in some places temperatures lower than 25F were seen.  The blueberry crop took the biggest blow.  Many of our rabbiteye types were ahead of schedule with the warm weather and were almost in full bloom or close to it when the cold nights came in.  I have seen several pictures from several farms that have a good bit of damage.  It is important to get fungicides out sometime this week as we have the perfect storm for a disease outbreak (warmer temperatures, wet weather, dead plant tissue, disease inoculum).  Recently planted brassicas are showing some damage but should grow out of it.  Only time will tell the extent of the cold damage.

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Strawberries are in their most vulnerable state when they are in full bloom as seen here. Photo from Zack Snipes.

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Small green fruit are a little more tolerant of cold temperatures although this fruit has some freeze damage and will decay if left on the plant.  Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We had plenty of rain last week and two cold nights this weekend.  It got to 28 Saturday morning and 29 Sunday morning at my house.  Strawberries were all covered, so they were protected, but now we’re getting to where we need to get the row covers off to make a fungicide application.  The rain and the threat of near-freezing temperatures this week is holding us back from getting that done.  Bees won’t able to get to the flowers for pollination either until we get the row covers off.  As soon as we’re able, we need to remove dead flowers, leaves, and fruit from the plants also.

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Water pooling in a collard field during the rain Thursday (2/20).  Photo from Justin Ballew.

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Strawberries split open to show cold damage.  The strawberry on the bottom is healthy and the two on top have varying degrees of discoloration and necrosis.  If not removed from the field, these two damaged berries will become a source of botrytis inoculum. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “Wet weather is still prevalent and temperatures have dipped below freezing a couple of nights this past week. Warm weather earlier in the month began to push peach trees into a bit of an early bloom so we are watching for cold injury now. It is still too early to tell if the weather will affect the crop.

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The left photo shows a brown pistil, most likely damaged by below freezing temperatures while the bloom in the right photo had a pistil that is still green and probably undamaged. Photo from Sarah Scott

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Workers use flail mowers to grind up smaller pieces of pruned limbs in row middles throughout peach orchards. Breaking down the material is helpful in nutrient recycling as well as speeding decomposition to reduce spore production from fungal pathogens.  Photo from Sarah Scott.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Rain won’t stop for us to get greens/cabbage/collards planted.  Transplants are having to be held back as much as possible so they won’t get too leggy.  Some growers got their sweet potato beds planted in real sandy fields.  Most strawberry growers have started covering to save fruit.  Remember that covering encourages spider mites and fruit rots.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “After a couple weeks with cooler temperatures, chill hours for the Upstate fruits crops (apples & peaches) are looking good. The dry weekend was too good to be true as we are getting more rain today. The forecast calls for dry weather the rest of this week. Hopefully, we can start getting into fields for prep work and early plantings for market growers.

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